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Research Excellence Framework 2021
Research Excellence Framework 2021 Panel Membership Announced

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Features

A window on the world of O.R.?
The “invisibility cloak” of science fiction is now fact, albeit with limitations. O.R. could claim to have had the power of invisibility for years, though not by desire; what we want is the opposite - a high-visibility jacket! Indeed, part of the mission of the OR Society is to help make our presence more visible. But perception involves both the observed and the observer. And all of us have open and hidden parts.

YOR18 – OR – A Twenty Twenty Vision
The 18th Young [to] OR Conference got off to a great start with the plenary session given by the President of the OR Society, Dr Geoff Royston. Antuela Tako, the chair of the organising committee, began the proceedings by telling the audience what had been planned for them and how to find out more about streams.

The Education & Research Committee
- Roles and Responsibilities: Brian Dangerfield (Liaison with ESRC)
Ruth Kaufman, Inside OR February 2013

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Posted on 06 October 2013

Health

Killing me softly

Mathematical modelling is being used to devise strategies to make cancer cells “exquisitely sensitive” to virus infection, in order to kill them without affecting normal healthy cells.

According to Dr. Mads Kaern, a member of the joint University of Ottawa and Ottawa Hospital Research Institute team, “Cancer is incredibly complicated, and what we tried to do was just to describe the basic interactions between viruses, normal cells and cancer cells. Cancer cells, for example, are distinguished by their rate of growth being faster than normal tissue.”

The project focuses on the viability and potency of oncolytic viruses: man-made viruses that target cancer cells but leave the body’s healthy ones alone. The challenge is to make viruses strong enough without having them turn on the wrong tissue.

“Oncolytic viruses are special in that they specifically target cancer cells,” explains Dr. Bell, a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and professor at the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Medicine. “Unfortunately, cancer is a very complicated and diverse disease, and some viruses work well in some circumstances and not well in others. As a result, there has been a lot of effort in trying to modify the viruses to make them safe, so they don’t target healthy tissue and yet are more efficient in eliminating cancer cells.”

The researchers have established a mathematical model that describes an infection cycle, including the way a virus replicates, spreads and activates cellular defence mechanisms. The modelling is capable of deriving knowledge about key physiological differences between normal cells and cancer cells in order to identify how modifying the genome of the virus might counter the anti-viral defences of cancer cells.

The mathematical models can predict how viral modifications would actually impact cancer cells and normal cells, and this accelerates the pace of research and allows for more rapid identification of the most promising approaches to be tested in the lab, something that is usually done through expensive and time-consuming trial and error.

For more information, see Inside OR.